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Fifth grade AIG students take unique trip

Waxhaw Elementary fifth grade AIG students enjoyed the mud pit during a fall field trip to the Barrier Islands of South Carolina.

Fifth grade AIG students had a great opportunity to take a three-day field trip in September and participate in the Barrier Island Education Program at St. Christopher Conference Center on the coast of South Carolina. Focused on hands-on and experiential education, we had a blast studying different ecosystems and learning from naturalists.

The mud pit was one of the trip’s highlights. After walking through the mud trail in the salt marsh and learning about the pluff mud that is rich in nutrients, both the girls and boys went into the mud pit. Even though we dove into the estuary to rinse off afterwards, our clothes stank so badly that we smelled like rotten fish!

When asked about the mud pit, Maggie commented, “It was an exhilarating time because the mud felt grassy flowing between my toes.”

In a long hike through the maritime forest we learned about ecosystem succession and how the forest adapts to different amounts of sunlight and soil with limited dirt. We learned scientific terms like phototropism and geotropism. Phototropism refers to how trees respond to and grow towards the light. Geotropism is how plants, like Spanish moss, grow towards the ground.

During the hike we studied different types of trees. We learned why the palmetto tree was chosen to be the South Carolina state tree and is pictured on the state’s flag. Palmetto logs were used to build Ft. Moultrie in the Revolutionary War. Since palmetto is a soft, fibrous wood, the palmetto logs absorbed the impact of the cannon balls and withstood attack by British warships.

Near the end of the hike through the maritime forest, we visited the slough and saw a couple of alligators in their natural habitat.

Other ecosystems we studied up close were the intertidal zone, sand dunes, estuary, and a pond. In the intertidal zone we collected items from the beach and studied horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, moon jellies, and different shells.

We even went seining in the estuary. Our group caught shrimp, a few small fish, some crabs, and even a sting ray. Thankfully the stingray’s barb didn’t get any of us! We observed dolphins swimming in the estuary, too. They like swimming and hunting for food in the estuary because they are protected a bit from other predators.

Our trip focused on a lot of learning, but there was fun, too. During beach recreation time we swam in the estuary, dug in the sand, and buried a classmate along the surf’s edge. We also had nightly activities like dancing,campfire songs, and challenge games.

Before lights out we walked along the beach with our flashlights to hunt for ghost crabs. When the light touched them, they ran to the water really quickly. One night our group members claim they saw a really big french ghost crab.

We will have great memories of this trip our whole entire life. We want to thank all the naturalists and the volunteers.

Written by: Andrew Adler, Lexi Martin, and Lily Williams
Posted: Nov 07, 2014 by Dana Sullivan

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